Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Luxembourg Insomnia...

"I have thousands of opinions still - but that is down from millions - and, as always,  I know nothing."   - Harold Brodkey

I'm sitting cross legged at the foot of a bed at 4:50 AM, half drunk, in a hotel room in Luxembourg with our guitar tech Brad sleeping a few feet away from me.  A situation that has somehow become normal for me, even mundane.  When I think about what my perceived adult reality was as a kid, and what it has become, I'm blown away.  It's even further in the future now than the time Marty McFly went to in Back to the Future 2.  As a kid, I thought by now I'd be a college graduate, a working guy with a family and all that. Probably with a flying car and meals in pill form.  After a certain point, 13 or 14 maybe, I thought I'd be exactly what I am.  It's just that I had no idea what becoming what I wanted to be entailed. Something I probably haven't fully realized until recently, over the course of the last few years when the band I created with 3 other people turned into something bigger. 

From the ground to the underground to the outer tinges of soccer mom's stereos.  From booking local shows, to booking east coast dates to spending 9 months a year on the road.  It's seriously a fucking trip, from the advantages, to the troubles, to the scruples and everything in between.  I would not trade it for any other life, but the perception of my life to a lot of people from the outside is starting to get interesting.  It now begins in my late twenties, when random people began digging my band.   People think they know you.  Your history and your baggage and your former pains and accomplishments.  Even the people who I've toured with for years couldn't tell me what my Mom's name is.  The kind of student I was in school.  How much bands like Strength 691, or 108, or CR meant to me.  What weekends with my Grandparents were like.  But to them, by listening to drum parts and reading a Wikipedia page, they think they know exactly who I am, who we are.   

It's this sort of judgement that's obtuse and dangerous and silly, and important to not take too seriously.   I'm an extremely opinionated and judgemental person, it's taken me the bulk of my adult life to let people be themselves without opinion, especially if it has no bearing on my life.  Now I've never been judged more in my life.  Everyone has an opinion, and one that has to mean something because my friends and I have chosen to publicly parade ourselves around and hire gigantic companies to promote our music.  Everything we say and do and write and record is now layed out for the court of public opinion.  And that's OK, it's part of the game.  It's just so much more important, now more than ever, to realize what a giant crock of shit it is. 

It's the most important time in my life to remember myself and where I come from.  To not let the leaking pen of a journalist or the quick fingers of a blogger define me.  They're random people, just like me.  People with their own histories, friends and families and scruples and insecurities to deal with. And I hope they find joy in what they do, malice driven or not.  It's like my Mom always said, "whatever gets you through the night".  The subjective nature of all of this is what keeps my skin thick.  6 years ago I was a pothead, college dropout who had a good job, a litany of past and present bands, and who's prime seemed to have passed when I stopped booking shows at 20 years old.    But I kept working and caught a break and now random people from all over want to pretend to know who I am, what motivates me and my friends and the type of people we are behind closed doors.  Let me lift the veil for you.  A bunch of lunkheads working their way through life, trying to figure it out...just like everybody else. 


  1. Mr, Horowitz (since you are right, I really don't know you)
    I, along with my wife & kids have been a fan of your band, going on 3 years now I guess. We've seen you live 4 times, the first, my wife was pregnant with my 3rd son. I love hearing your thoughts, as well as the other members of the Gaslight Anthem. Lately, though it sounds like the lifestyle is getting to you guys. All I can say is hang in there and always be in control. You are doing what many would love to do, including myself. I wouldn't trade my life now for that of a touring musician, but i'm sure you can see why the thought might flow in & out of my mind. I was 37 when I first heard the 59' Sound. I then went back & discovered Sink or Swim, & TGA quickly became my new favorite band. Not sure where I am going with this, but what you guys do is very appreciated by my family. Like I said, I don't know you guys, but what I "think" I know about all 4 of you, is something I don't want to see change.

  2. ^^^^^^

    What this guy said.... well, kinda... but i'm not 37 and don't have a kid! Keep doing what you do so well, which is what you're doing now .....

  3. Benny, the summer I read AP magazine that swelled and hyped the coming release of the '59 Sound was the summer my life changed. I found out my girlfriend of 7 years was cheating on me and my life turned upside down. Then I got the album and it didn't leave my car stereo for a year (which was important because it felt like I was living in my car). I recommended the album to anyone I could, not because I had to but because it would sell itself. My life is different now and I will hopefully never have to revisit those highs and lows again, but that album will always be what got me through. I have never read this blog and I have never assumed anything about you guys, but I know what your music has done for me and my life so thank you. By the way I've caught you guys the last 3 tours you brought through MI and so far you are the only guy I've met after the show. Thank you man for all that you do for the music and us.

  4. Really insightful read as always!

    "Whatever gets you through the night"

    Did your mom co-write the lyrics to National Anthem?

  5. Benny, let's put aside for a second the irony that I am going to comment on this as if I know you... and that I have any conception of what it would mean to be in your shoes but moving along. It seems like the success of Handwritten has been looming large in every corner of your world. You and Brian both seem to have some reservations about being more in the public eye, and I hope you are not regretting moving to a major label. To us, just fans, I think most of us are so super excited that the music is getting the recognition it deserves and that we have hoped for you guys. And personally, I only hope for more to come your way.

    You know, I read that Vice blog. It was atrocious in every respect, but think of that guys motivations. He wanted internet traffic. He wanted to be as bombastic and acerbic as possible because that is what is going to get eyes on his silly blog, and that is probably how he is paid. Think of how that poison's him, not you, to be that much of an asshole. His statements were unfounded and really just stupid. I mean, I love some music, don't like others that my friends love - whatever - who cares? I don't go around thinking I like the only music that matters. It's silly on its face and should not be given credence, but to that end it still sucks when people say shitty things about things that you love or in which you have invested part of yourself.

    Oh, I am going to keep on going apparently. I should write my own blog. The other thing this made me think about is that people who contribute something to the world are desirable. And I don't mean that in a superficial way. I mean think about how meaningful it is, how profound in the greater scheme it is to have CONTRIBUTED something to the world. Something that reaches across boundaries and boarders. Something that is lasting and powerful. Think of at any moment how many people all over the world are listening to your music. You lunkheads have made a contribution to the human experiment and people are listening. To me that's kinda a 'holy shit' thing to think about.

    So external people to you have a desire to be part of your contribution. To touch for a moment the things that move you and motivate you, but are not part of you is a special thing. Some people overreach and think they know you, yes, but not most, most are just happy to listen. You know from the bands that you have loved in your life that their words, their music is meaningful to you because you feel connected to it, in some way, that the people who made that music connected to you specifically. Did you know them, no, did you feel like if you met at a bar you would like to bend their ear for a bit - I'm betting you did and I'm betting you still do. With hopefully the rare exception I think that is what most fans are trying to reach for. They love your music, and ergo they love you, because you connected to them. It's a one-way street for the most part, but then again you do write a mean blog.

    Look I don't know shit about shit, but I hope you keep on being grounded in where you come from, and keep other people's shitty motivations in your mind when you read negative things (but try not to read those things). And always enjoy yourself. I'll be listening.

  6. I can't pretend to know you, but I will admit that you have the best grin ever. The cameras showing TGA live at Coachella caught you smiling like an idiot sometimes and I was grinning like a fool at my computer screen in return.

  7. One of my favorite quotes is..."it's none of my business what people think of me."

  8. Sir, Marty travelled to 2015! Guess we'll have to wait a little longer for our hoverboards...just sayin...

    Cheers from Regensburg...can't belive it's already 5 years ago since that first Eurotour: https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/400325_271302906276089_1188406831_n.jpg

    Hope you're doin' good!


  9. Your band is getting me through medical school. I just want to save the world, one patient at a time...but first I have to pass all these pesky tests. So thank you for 53 songs, youtube videos, and endless repeats as background noise to pathology, neuroscience, pharmacology (I wish we didn't have as many drugs either!), etc...
    Also, if you are into existentialist psychiatry/logotherapy or the meaning of life...Viktor Frankl is the shit.

  10. For supposedly being half drunk, this is well written. All I know is that, I really dig the music that The Gaslight Anthem makes. Personally I feel like a slight bad-ass blasting your music, and one day I'm sure I'll have to replace my speakers, but it's worth it.